NEWS

In Brief

RELIGIOUS TALKS

Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios to visit Pope Benedict XVI in March Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios is expected to visit Pope Benedict XVI on March 6, Vatican sources said yesterday. The patriarch’s planned visit is scheduled to coincide with the 90th anniversary of the foundation of a Vatican institute that instructs senior priests in matters of Orthodox theology and the operation of churches in Eastern Europe. Vartholomaios attended the institute as a student. The patriarch has met the pope several times since the latter’s appointment in April 2005. UK UNIVERSITIES Education minister calls for information from British peer Greece has asked for information from British Higher Education Minister Bill Rammell about universities that have franchise arrangements with Greek private colleges. There appears to be confusion over exactly how many British universities are cooperating with Greek colleges and what their credentials are. Education Minister Evripidis Stylianidis made the request yesterday as the government prepares to give full recognition to franchise colleges in Greece. Stylianidis said he wanted to clear up the «chaotic landscape» by obtaining information about which institutions have proper recognition from the British state. EARTHQUAKE DAMAGE Inspectors see problems in 14 homes Environment and Public Works Ministry inspection teams in Leonidio, which was hit by a 6.5 Richter earthquake on Sunday, found that one abandoned home had been completely destroyed while another 13 had suffered structural damage and were not safe to live in. Inspectors have held 72 checks in the southeastern Peloponnese district and will continue inspections today. Murder suspect Police arrested a 34-year-old Georgian national yesterday for allegedly killing a 30-year-old man on January 2 over money he was owed. The victim had suffered knife wounds in Kypseli, central Athens, and later died in the hospital, according to authorities. Police said they traced the suspect from phone calls he had made to the victim shortly before the attack took place. The two had been arguing over the money over the last month, according to friends of the victim. Illegal immigrants The Merchant Marine Ministry said yesterday that 9,240 illegal immigrants were arrested during the whole of 2007 along with an additional 196 suspects accused of human trafficking. Port authorities also confiscated 161 vessels in 652 seperate incidents of human trafficking recorded for the year, the ministry added. For the month of December, 26 suspects were arrested on drug-related charges, while authorities also confiscated 471 grams of cannabis in 15 separate incidents. Child sex Tougher laws on child abuse or people involved in underage pornography and so-called sex tourism will come into effect on January 24, it was revealed yesterday. Offenders will face up to 10 years in jail and fines of as much as 500,000 euros. The same bill also gave police greater powers to use CCTV cameras to observe people taking part in protest marches with the intention of breaking the law. The police can only use the cameras in the presence of a prosecutor and the footage can only be used in court. Drugs in jail Authorities at a jail in Ioannina, northwestern Greece, yesterday arrested a 26-year-old ethnic Greek from Russia who allegedly tried to give his 25-year-old brother – a convict at the institution – a small bag containing 1.2 grams of heroin and a blanket laced with the drug. It was unclear how the heroin had been concealed within the blanket. Both brothers yesterday faced a Ioannina prosecutor. Fatal blaze A 42-year-old man died in a fire that broke out in the bedroom of his apartment in Iraklion, Crete, in the early hours of yesterday morning. The man is believed to have been suffocated by the toxic fumes released in the fire. It is unclear what caused the blaze. Escaped patient A 45-year-old patient who escaped from a psychiatric institution in Tripolis, central Greece, last Saturday is still missing, authorities said yesterday. The 45-year-old, originally from Megalopolis, is a long-term patient, authorities said.